Ruth First Scholar (2003-04)
Owen Manda is from Daveyton, in the Gauteng province of the Republic of South Africa (near Johannesburg). He graduated from Vista University in December 2002 with a BA Honours degree in Sociology.
During his undergraduate studies, Owen took part in a number of university and community projects:
- President of Vista University SRC
- Finance Officer for the National SRC
- Vista University Council, Finance & Budget Committee, and Campus Management Committee
- Research project on AIDS/HIV, with reference to attitudes and social stigma
- Representative of South African youth at two world conferences
- Deputy President of AZASCO (Azanian Student Convention) in 2001, and Acting President in 2002-03
- Community youth projects for skills development
At Durham, Owen took a taught MA in Research Methods (Sociology). Here’s an abstract of his dissertation, which was closely related to the work he had previously been doing on AIDS issues.
A Complex Systems Approach to Understanding HIV/AIDS in South Africa
This dissertation is drawn from the findings of a study on complex systems approach to understanding HIV/AIDS epidemic in South Africa. It is a pilot study for a PhD research on the same topic. The study is set in the context of recent works published by Byrne (1998) and Cilliers (1998) dealing with complex systems defined as open systems which consists of multiple components that interact with their environment and these interactions are non-linear, dynamic and can be unpredictable. The study views complexity as a scientific and inductive idea which deals with immanent properties of complex systems as these develop through time.
Data for this study were secondary data from government and non-governmental institutions and international institutions such as UNDP, UNAIDS, World Bank and WHO. The first focus was to compare South Africa and Brazil intervention strategies and policy formulation and how these were implemented in these countries to battle the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic and secondly a comparison of thirty middle-income countries (South Africa and Brazil included) in the years 1997 and 2004 respectively.
Cluster analysis method was used to analyse the data and a brief discussion of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and NVIVO was also included. Cluster analysis method gives types of qualitative sets which come from an ensemble of cases, in clustering the focus is on the cases and therefore this technique is case centred and case driven. However this technique can be contrasted with the analysis of variance approach, which is a variable centred technique dealing with variation. In conclusion the study finds that HIV/AIDS epidemic in developing countries is an increasing problem that must be addressed as a matter of urgency and prevention, treatment and care must be the first priority in the battle against the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Click here to download the presentation that Owen gave to the 2003 AGM of the Trust (Word document).
Owen returned to South Africa in 2004 to study for a PhD at Stellenbosch University, building on the research he carried out for his MA dissertation. In January 2006, he started work in the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research unit of the South African Medical Research Council: “My work entails generating knowledge and proposing policy and other interventions that will lead to a reduction in alcohol and other drug abuse and the associated burden experienced by individuals and society.” In 2008 he moved to the University of Johannesburg as a researcher in the Centre for Sociological Research, where his work was linked to his PhD on class formation and identity in the East Rand metal industry in post-apartheid South Africa. He visited Durham in June 2008 to give a research seminar in the School of Applied Social Sciences on this project.
In October 2009 Owen took up the post of Senior Research Executive for Synovate, a market research company, then in 2012 he became HR Manager/Project Consultant for the market research firm KLA (Kaufman Levin Associates). He wrote then: “Things are really happening in the private sector and my primary mission is to be a pioneer of transformation and especially this sector, which is still dominated by whites even almost 20 years into democracy. I really found passion in the boardroom ‘fights’ that are aimed at waging a struggle that will ultimately free the market for the young black intelligentsia. It is a worthy fight. As part of a dedicated group of cadres who want to see change happening in our lifetime, I’m extremely determined to utilise the space I’m currently in (Human Resource Manager) to fight for transformation in the private sector and build a better South Africa.”
Update January 2019: Owen has been working for the multinational market research company Ipsos since 2014. He is now Head of Public Affairs for South Africa.